Computer Games Steal Your Soul

Amusingly, a British computer game maker inserted the following into their standard form contract on April 1:

By placing an order via this web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from gamesation.co.uk or one of its duly authorised minions. We reserve the right to serve such notice in 6 (six) foot high letters of fire, however we can accept no liability for any loss or damage caused by such an act. If you a) do not believe you have an immortal soul, b) have already given it to another party, or c) do not wish to grant Us such a license, please click the link below to nullify this sub-clause and proceed with your transaction.

In a shocking result, almost 12% of customers actually caught this T&C, clicking on a link to deny the term that earned them a voucher.  This suggests a reading rate around 10x higher than previously reported in academic research on contract terms, suggesting that individuals value their souls an order of magnitude more than they do an ordinary warranty.  Like Van Halen’s M&Ms, some contract terms just pop off the page.

(H/T: Contracts Listserve, via Lucas Osborn)

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8 Responses

  1. Lindsay Wiley says:

    Reminds me of Boris Kossmehl’s Not Without My Handbag:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAyQVRGuyKU&feature=related

  2. Talk about unconscionable.

  3. A.J. Sutter says:

    “suggesting that individuals value their souls an order of magnitude more than they do an ordinary warranty”: that conclusion isn’t clear from the facts you present. Were customers alerted to this clause before they started to read the Ts&Cs? Why doesn’t it simply reflect a higher-than-expected rate of reading Ts&Cs generally, at least within this customer base? If I may speak anecdotally, I read closely or scan through all Ts&Cs (maybe other than for Windows updates, which are offers I can’t refuse), yet I also accept well over 95% of them. So one can’t infer from customers’ high acceptance rate that they have a low rate of reading such terms. If, instead, the research you refer to is based on surveys that ask people directly whether they read Ts&Cs, maybe it’s the surveys that are flawed; if it’s based on other “trick question” techniques, maybe differences in the clauses or the customer pools are the reason. In any case, it’s probably not that people have a priori knowledge about the contents of gamestation’s Ts&Cs, as your statement seems to require. (My apologies for maybe taking this post more seriously than you intended!)

  4. Ryan Calo says:

    I have to agree with A.J. here. I imagine one person spotted the clause and told all her friends. That said, recent data from the Eurobarometer (http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/index_en.htm), an index of public opinion undertaken by the EU, suggests that Europeans read policies at a much higher rate than Americans.

  5. MariJewel says:

    Hope the young ones who are addicted to computer games will read this.